Road accidents have increased nearly 50 per cent this year during Dashain giving this year’s festival the dubious distinction of recording the highest fatalities in the last three years.
Nepal Police data shows 568 road accidents took place in various parts of the country. This Dashain, between October 10 and October 23, 129 people (passengers and pedestrians) were killed. In the same period, 271 persons were critically injured whereas 586 were injured in road accidents.
Nepal Police Spokesperson Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Uttam Raj Subedi said road accidents soared during this festival despite efforts of concerned agencies to minimise such tragedies.“Nepal Police and Traffic Police took safety measures from the beginning of the festival to reduce accidental deaths on roads. Despite our continuous efforts, road accidents have gone up this year,” said SSP Subedi told the Post. Nepal Police data shows 104 people were killed from 380 road accidents in the country last Dashain between September 21 to October 5.
During last year’s Dashain celebrations Butwan Traffic Office recorded the highest number (31) of deaths
followed by Pathlaiya (28) and Ithari (27). In 2016, out of 563 accidents, 101 persons were killed, 645 were injured and 221 critically injured during Dashain. The number of accidents is seemingly less than the sum of fatalities, injured and critically injured people because road mishaps often include public buses that transport many passengers. Therefore, one bus accident could report several people killed or injured.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, driving at high speeds, drivers’ recklessness, breaking traffic rules, falling asleep and negligence remain the major causes of road accidents, said SSP Subedi.“Road accidents often happen because of reckless driving by public vehicles drivers. Most motorcycles accidents occur because of speeding and riding bikes under the influence of alcohol,” he said.
Kathmandu Valley has registered highest number of accidents in the country from the Ghatasthapna, the first day of Dashain, to Kojagrata Purnima, the last day of the festival, this festive season.Metropolitan Traffic Police Division data shows 14 persons perished in 329 road accidents in Kathmandu Valley. The death and road accident rates have increased significantly in the Valley from four deaths out of 177 accidents in 2017. Other state traffic offices outside the Kathmandu Valley have recorded significant number of road accidents and deaths this festive season as well.
The highest deaths (27) were reported by Ramnagar Traffic Police in Chitwan, Province 3; followed by Butwal, Province 5 (24); Gagangauda, Gandaki Province (23); Pathalaiya, Province 2 (19), Attariya, Sudur Paschim Province (9), Itahari, Province 1 (7) and Kohalpur Traffic Office (6).
This year, Nepal Police deployed 2,700 traffic police personnel in various parts of the country to monitor and control traffic in a bid to reduce road accidents during the festival. The traffic police facilitated several check posts, random checking points along the highways and seven resting stations – one each in all provinces – for long-haul drivers.
“Passengers tend to travel ignoring risk of possible accidents during festive seasons. As there are limited public vehicles, they rush to travel in overcrowded buses, risking their lives,” said SSP Subedi, adding, the police will be taking lessons from this year’s accidents to bring down such incidents in future.